Sometimes in life, you can be in a room crowded with people, yet feel all alone. Sometimes you can sit at a table for a meal with others, yet feel all alone. Sometimes you can worship in your church and hear the gospel preached, yet feel all alone. Loneliness can be a difficult place to live. Mother Teresa once wrote, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
Many people live in the poverty of loneliness. They feel isolated and alone. And while they may daily connect with other individuals, it is only on the surface. There is a deep loneliness that they just cannot seem to break free from. As a result, depression can settle in as loneliness closest friend and leave the individual struggling to find their way in the world.
In Psalm 102 we read: “I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I lie awake and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop” (Psalm 102:6-7). The psalmist confesses that even in the places he should feel at home, he is alone. This individual’s struggle is played out daily in the lives of people who feel as though in a world of many, they are all by themselves.
Many experiences can bring us to these lonely times: death and grief, sin and shame, anxiety and fear, broken relationships, and others can lead us down paths where we find ourselves wondering if we were no longer, would anybody even notice. Would anybody miss me? Would anybody care? Indeed, Mother Teresa was right. Loneliness is a terrible poverty.
The challenge becomes how do I rise out of this poverty of loneliness. The greater poet, Maya Angelou, spoke of rising out of her loneliness. She said, “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” Music indeed has a way of lifting our souls from many of life’s difficult experiences.
When I reflect on my faith I realize that God is quite the songwriter. The lyrics of scripture remind us over and over again that we are never alone. Nowhere is this truer than in the life of Jesus. As Jesus prepared to leave his disciples he told them, “I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth … I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16–18). Jesus didn’t say come look for him, but that he would come looking for us.
Even in our most lonely moments, God is with us. God is our refuge. God is our strength. All the lonely people have the assurance of the all-encompassing love of a God who will not let us go.